LED Downlight Buyer’s Guide from OzLighting on Vimeo.
This might be the first time that you intend to buy an LED light, so the team at OzLighting would like to assist you through the process. The above video aims to explain the basic terms and unique concepts that you will encounter on your LED buying journey.
At OzLighting we try to make the buying process as painless and trouble-free as possible. So if you’ve still got any unanswered questions after reading this or viewing the video, or just want to delve a little deeper, drop us a line… Our team of lighting experts are standing by and will be happy to help:
WHAT IS AN LED?
LED or Light Emitting Diode, is an electronic device that emits light when electricity is applied. It only requires a small amount of electricity to achieve a stunning amount of light output. This advantage is exploited to provide enough light to fill a room while drawing very little electricity from the mains supply – up to 85% less electricity than incandescent equivalents. So with that out of the way lets talk specifics.
THE BOX DEMYSTIFIED
WATTS – By drawing less electricity, LED’s offer an advantage in smaller electrical bills when compared with yesteryear’s technology of halogen down-lights. As such LED lights are considered the norm in the current market. Why pay more to run your lights if you don’t have to? They also last much longer as, comparatively, they produce far less wasted energy in the form of heat, the killer of all lights.
HOURS – In fact, probably their most important characteristic is their long life-span. Modern LED down-lights will tend to last up to 10x longer under normal usage conditions. You can find the Average Lamp Life Hours on the underside of the box.
RoHS Compliant LED’s – This means they contain no mercury or lead, and are manufactured in a way that has little impact on the environment. Products that do especially well can carry this RoHS compliant logo on their packaging.
“F” – Some LED’s can be rated to be safely used under insulation in the roof. This can be easily identified by the “F” logo on the box.
Square in Square Logo – The entire LED Down-light and supporting driver (see further on) are Class II double insulated devices, and as such require no connection to earth. This is represented by the double-square logo seen here. To the layman, insignificant; to the electrician, an indication of safety – offering piece of mind that this detail has been properly considered.
Wheelie bin logo and CE logo – The wheelie bin logo with strike-through represents WEEE Directive (Waste from Electrical Equipment ), and is an indication that at the end of the LED devices’ lifespan, it needs to be disposed of in a responsible way. These materials can be recycled and reused in new products. We only have one Earth, we all need to do our best to protect it.
CE Logo – A mandatory conformity marking for certain products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1985. Simply, the CE marking indicates that the manufacturer or importer claims compliance with the relevant EU legislation applicable to a product, irrespective of where manufactured. More for us than you, this is an important part of ensuring our product meets guidelines for suitability for sale in the Australian market and the CE logo must be displayed.”
The now mature LED market uses a whole lot of jargon that you might initially find confusing. Let’s take a look at the various terms and you’ll see that they’re all pretty easy to understand once you get to know them…
Every LED light needs some kind of driver.
An LED driver is an electrical device which regulates the power to an LED.
They are usually found outside of the lighting housing as in this example but can be manufactured into the housing for certain applications.
You should ensure your Driver meets Australian Standards by looking for its SAA Approval Number. You’ll find this number clearly marked on the driver itself.
ARE ALL LED’s DIMMABLE?
Not all LED lights are suitable for dimming. It is mostly the driver that enables dimming in LED Lighting.
Your light should state on the box whether it is dimmable or not. If you’re going to pair a light with a dimmer, you should note if it requires a Trailing edge or a Leading Edge Compatible Dimmer and then match it with an appropriate dimmer. This is usually indicated on the underside of the packaging.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WATTAGE & LUMENS?
Because of incandescent light bulbs, you’re probably used to looking at wattage to determine the light output of a light source: a 100-watt lamp puts out more light than a 60-watt lamp. With LED lighting, the Wattage is still quoted, expressing how much electrical power the LED uses, but this doesn’t necessarily tell you how bright the light is. So the Watts just goes to explain the amount of power consumed by a bulb per hour.
The brightness, or if you prefer, the light output, is actually expressed in Lumens (or LUX, which is just Lumens per square meter). The higher the Lumens the brighter the light.
You will find LED lights that use less Wattage but can still produce the same or greater quantity of LUMEN brightness. A 13 Watt (13W) LED bulb manufactured by 5 different manufacturers could have 5 different light outputs. In fact, some LED bulbs can be twice as bright at the same wattage. There are a number of reasons for this, but let’s just mention 3 here.
The brand of LED chip contained in the light will directly affect brightness.
The colour of an LED (even with the same brand chip) will significantly affect light output.
The quality and type of materials used to make the light housing will greatly affect brightness.
WHAT DOES THE COLOUR TEMPERATURE MEAN?
Now let’s have a look at how the lighting industry measures the colour range that LED lights emit. We’re now entering the world of Colour Temperature which describes the color characteristics of light. So let’s be clear, this does not refer to the actual temperature of the light or bulb, but rather describes how the colour of the light APPEARS to our eyes.
This colour temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K). But this is too technical, so instead, the industry refers to terms such as “Warm White”, “Cool white” and “Day Light”. Counter-intuitively, the warmer colours exist at the lower Kelvin ratings.
1000 Kelvin emits the reddish/yellow, very warm looking light that you’d see from say a candle. At the other extreme, a 10 kelvin light looks very cool to the eye, with a blue-sky looking blue.
Warm White refers to a colour temperature of about 3,000K. These Warm White lights are commonly found in living areas like your bedroom and living room. A nice and relaxing intimate hue.
A mid-range colour temperature of around 4000K is called “Cool White”. Cool White is most popular in the more functional areas such as bathroom, kitchens and offices.
The higher colour temperatures put out a “whiter” light with blue undertones. At 5,000K This is commonly referred to as “Day Light”. This range of day light colour temperatures are less common in residences and are used mainly in commercial spaces like warehouses or showrooms, they’ll keep you paying attention.
WHAT IS AN IP RATING?
If you are interested in outdoor lighting, then there is another very interesting term you should know about. This is IP rating. You can see this light’s IP rating stated clearly on the roof of the packaging.
An IP rating indicates how waterproof and dust-proof a light fitting is. The term stands for “Ingress Protection”. What is important is that the number consists of two digits and each needs to be considered independently.
- The first digit indicates how dust-proof a fitting is.
- The second digit refers to how water-proof a fitting is.
A high-end outdoor light will be IP rated 67 or 68 while a rating of 44 is usually suitable for general outdoor use (though preferably not with direct exposure to heavy rain). Under an awning IP44 Rated lights will be fine. However, in the middle of the garden, garden lights need to be IP65+ Rated.
WHAT IS A BEAM ANGLE?
Let’s discuss Beam Angles now. LED bulbs commonly use 120 degree beam angles. This is suitable for rooms that need an even, general coverage of light.
However, if you are purchasing LED spotlights and downlights, you might want to spend a moment considering if the beam angle is correct for your use.
If you use a narrower beam angle, you will increase light intensity but reduce the size of the area being illuminated for the same height.
A wider beam angle gives a more even spread of light and a beam angle of 60 degrees or more is recommended for general lighting from downlights.
A narrow beam angle can result in bright spots and shadowing which is not usually desired.
However, a narrow beam CAN be suitable for highlighting a picture, display piece or other feature.
WHAT IS THE CRI OF AN LED LIGHT?
The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of a lamp or fitting is a measure of a light sources ability to show object colours reallistically or naturally.
A CRI of 80 or above should be more than enough for a regular usage.
WHAT IS THE CUT-OUT SIZE
Most downlights have a lip that projects against the ceiling. All the other parts of the light are hidden in the ceiling.
When a manufacturer indicates a cut-out size range, he is suggesting to the installer the diameter of the hole that needs to be made in the ceiling that will allow the light to be fitted properly. The lip of the light will cover up any excess space or jagged edges as long as the hole is not wider than the recommended cut-out range.
There’s obviously a whole lot more to this topic, but we think that armed with the basic understanding of the terms, you’ll be able to manage a useful conversation with your lighting advisor. Thank you for joining us and remember that we’re standing by with any questions you might still have.
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